What do you do when your nose goes on strike?
Every afternoon for the past several weeks at two I’ve been receiving a call on my cell phone from a company in New York. The recorded message states that this is an urgent call with an important message for Cynthia Unger, who should retrieve said message immediately by calling a given 800 number or by simply pressing zero now.
I’ve already come to despise my cell phone, especially since upgrading to a smart phone. It’s just too darn complicated. It may be smart but it makes me feel dumb as I clumsily try to use even the simplest of its features. Take the press zero now request, for example. Whenever this happens I look to find the zero button only to discover that the screen saver has kicked in. The ensuing fumbling to get the screen back starts all sorts of fiascos. Oh, for the days of the rotary dial.
What’s in store for Ms. Unger I wonder? Has she won the lottery? Inherited money or a castle from some long forgotten relative? Contracted a sexually transmitted disease? Been selected for “Dancing with the Stars?” Picked to be Newt Gingrich’s next mistress?
After about the fifth call I press zero even though I am not, never have been and never will be named Cynthia. The man who answers the phone speaks perfect English so I assume his job has not been outsourced to Bangalore or God knows where like many Massachusetts state jobs were under the leadership of Gov. Mitt Romney.
I explain that they have a wrong number and that I should be taken off their call list. No problem, I’m told, but the phone rings the next day right on time. (Actually, my cell phone doesn’t ring. I’ve reprogrammed it to play “eerie,” which are wavering notes like the kind you hear in science fiction movies when the alien crawls out of the spaceship.)
I repeat my take-me-off-your-call-list request a couple more times before sailing onto a different tack. The next time I managed to find zero, tap it and say, “Hi, I’m Cynthia Unger,” not making any effort to disguise my voice, “and I understand it’s urgent that I talk with someone.”
Cynthia, it turns out, has been a naughty girl failing to pay off a loan of a thousand dollars to a New York bank. The urgency mentioned is that this bank wants its money now (perhaps to pay bonuses to the officers who nearly bankrupted this country by pushing sub-prime loans).
“Oh dear me,” I say, “I forgot all about that, can I send you a check today?” My plan is to get their address and mail them a brick postage due but the voice on the other end will have nothing to do with it. “I can take a credit card number from you now,” he offers, “and knock the amount down to $900.”
Normally, I’m a terrible negotiator. Once in Mexico I managed to talk a street vendor selling maracas for seventy pesos each to let me buy three for two hundred and fifty.
I repeat my request to mail a check and he lowers the amount to $800 if I get my Visa card out now. I demure, “well, okay.”
“Great,” he says and asks for the billing address on the card. “Twenty-two Calle Encima De Su Nariz in Tuscon, Arizona,” I reply. Apparently, my agent doesn’t speak Spanish as he doesn’t pick up on the fact that I just told him I live on Up Your Nose Street.
“And the number on the card?” he asks. I respond that I am not Cynthia and have asked several times to be taken off their call list. I say that I’m retired and have plenty of time to keep playing this trick. He hangs up cutting me off in mid-sentence.
Oh, and when your nose goes on strike, you pick it.